An impaired lipid metabolism is often found in patients with chronic liver diseases. Unfortunately, few studies are available concerning serum lipid and lipoprotein levels in patients with liver cirrhosis and chronic active hepatitis (CAH).
To evaluate low-density lipoprotein (LDL), high-density lipoprotein (HDL), very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL), and total cholesterol serum levels in patients with cirrhosis and CAH and control patients and to relate the findings to the severity of the cirrhosis (Child classification).
We measured the serum lipid pattern in 34 consecutive patients with liver cirrhosis (15 men and 19 women; mean [±SD] age, 55±14 years; Child classes: 14 in A, 9 in B, 11 in C; patients with biliary cirrhosis were excluded), 34 patients with CAH, and 34 control patients. The 3 groups were matched for sex and age. Total serum, HDL cholesterol, and triglyceride levels were measured by enzymatic methods; serum LDL and VLDL levels were calculated.
In patients with cirrhosis, there was a significant decrease in LDL, HDL, and total cholesterol serum levels compared with both the patients with CAH and the control patients, while the VLDL cholesterol level in patients with cirrhosis was significantly lower compared with the control patients alone. A significant decrease in total cholesterol levels was also observed in the CAH group when compared with the control patients. In patients with cirrhosis, levels of LDL, HDL, and total serum cholesterol were progressively lower when comparing patients in Child class A with patients in class C.
In this study, the striking decrease in the level of serum LDL cholesterol in patients with liver disease was related to the increasing severity of the disease. Accordingly, the assessment of the serum LDL cholesterol level is important for an effective treatment and prognostic evaluation of patients with chronic liver disease.Arch Intern Med. 1997;157:792-796